Pembroke: MMC loses secretary at the 18th hole

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Whatever will the Monopolies and Mergers Commission do without Stephen Burbridge, who retired from his job as secretary on Friday? Mr Burbridge, 59, was known as the power behind the throne at the MMC for his sturdy input into many of its reports.

'Our gas report was a highlight for the commission so I think that would be a highlight of mine too,' he says.

After a brief holiday in France later this month he is off to New Zealand for a walking holiday in January but has set his heart on a more extravagant trip to the Antarctic. 'I collect books and stamps about the Antarctic and it's been an ambition of mine to travel there for some time.'

But his more immediate concerns are to play to his 16 handicap at his golf club near his Sussex cottage.

A hotel and restaurant in the North-east has an unusual sales pitch. In the Darlingon edition of the Northern Echo, Stanhope Old Hall advertises that its table d'hote menu, Sunday lunches and bar meals offer 'a superb range of good food and wind'.

If six men were each given pounds 500 and had a a week to increase it, who would you think was the best bet? A stock market player, an antiques dealer, a television horse racing pundit, or Eddie Shah, the newspaper entrepreneur and sometime novelist?

The smart money would be on Eddie Shah, according to Esquire, a glossy men's magazine, which gave the six men the cash and reports their exploits in its latest issue.

Shah, who seemed to spend most of the week playing golf for money or gambling in Curzon Street casinos, doubled his money, while those who tried more traditional methods did not fare as well.

'I've always been pretty successful at gambling. The trick is to keep going till you start to lose and then walk away,' says the newspaper man helpfully.

Pembroke may be a cynic but can one really believe the results of a typing contest staged by National Savings Bank recently? Presumably because it was keen to adopt the leaner, fitter methods of the private sector, the bank made its in-house typing departments compete with private sector companies for the bank's admin contracts. Surprise, surprise, the in-house bids won in all locations.

'The in-house bids proved to be more flexible, more economical and better value for money in every instance,' gushes the bank's staff newspaper.

The stock markets could be set for a tumble next week if two groups of forecasters are to be believed. The Global Intelligence Agency, which launches a new astrology-based service on Reuters next month, says it sees turmoil in the stars that will cause convulsions in the currency markets and pose a real threat to the UK equity market after 25 October.

Coincidentally, David Schwartz, who publishes an investor's diary and uses historic stock market data to forecast future stock market performance, foresees a similar thing. 'The fourth week of October is a poor time to be holding shares and things seem to be getting worse,' he says. You have been warned.

Jane Anscombe, who spent 12 years as an analyst at BZW, most recently as a leisure analyst, has decided to get a proper job and move into industry. She has joined Rank Organisation as head of investor relations, replacing Warren Stein, who is off to Los Angeles to look after Rank's two US businesses.

Explaining her leap to the other side, she says: 'I thought it would do me a bit of good to see some of the real world.'